Today’s focus is on Group D, as perennial under-achievers England face a difficult task of removing that tag in a tough group containing Uruguay and Italy.
England have only reached the semi-finals of a World Cup once since their 1966 victory, and will be hoping their current crop of players, containing a balanced mix of youth and experience, will be able to deliver in Brazil.
Qualification: W 6, D 4, L 0
Previous World Cup appearances: 13
Best World Cup finish: Winners (1966)
Current FIFA ranking: 10
Coach: Roy Hodgson has brought about a sense of calm around a cut-throat and widely-publicised England set-up with his conservative approach and philosophies. The experienced manager has created a well-organised English side who are hard to break down, having conceded just four goals in their ten World Cup qualifiers.
Captain: A leader for both club and country, inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard is an experienced and calm figure both on and off the pitch, and will be looking to lead his team as far as possible in what might be the Liverpool player’s last World Cup.
Key player: Despite being England’s all-time top goal-scorer in competitive internationals, Wayne Rooney is a man on a mission: he has yet to score at a Fifa World Cup.
The Manchester United striker has consistently delivered for both club and country, and will be a vital member of Roy Hodgson’s side as England look to rid themselves of their under-achiever tag.
A hard worker who gives his all in every game, Rooney is strong on the ball, unselfish and can pick a deadly pass, shoot from distance or slot home from a dead-ball situation. The 28-year-old can fit comfortably into a centre-forward role, play as second striker or even attack from midfield.
The Premier League’s highest-paid player, Rooney proved his worth to United when he became the club’s third-highest goal-scorer ever with a brace against Crystal Palace in March this year.
He holds the record as England’s youngest-ever goalscorer and remains one of the first names on the teamsheet, and is now closing in fast on his 100th appearance for his country. His seven goals in six qualifying matches helped England top their group, and Rooney will be hoping the goals will continue to flow freely in Brazil as he looks to break his World Cup duck.
Key fixture: England will be hoping for a good start to the tournament when they take on four-time champions Italy in their opening match.
15 June, 00:00 England vs Italy
19 June, 21:00 Uruguay vs England
24 June, 18:00 Costa Rica vs England
Don’t miss the current edition of KICKOFF magazine for 16 pages of World Cup analysis, plus TWO World Cup wall charts, so you can follow every game of the world showpiece.
Be sure to continue logging on to KickOff.com for profiles and news on all the teams at this year’s FIFA World Cup, as well as insight into young emerging talents that are looking to make their mark in Brazil.